We got up super early to make it in time for the race (which is about an hour's drive from my house). We arrive to Bonelli Park to see a ranger station and a guy telling us that it will be $10 to park. This was completely unexpected, as we rarely carry cash on us. "Um...is there an ATM machine around here somewhere?" The ranger groans and goes "I don't think so man, listen, just say - very loudly - that you're here to drop someone off and will be coming back, and then just go park."
So that worked out pretty well.
We get parked and start the long haul to the transition area. There was a bike demo going on with several different bike vendors (Specialized, GT, Fuji, etc) before we even arrived at the expo. Once at the expo, I was able to set up my transition area (which was wide open and not at all crowded) and head to the lake for the swim.
|Brucie and I before the swim start.|
|The lake and the "swim out" portion before the event started.|
The swim for this event was 800 meters (ish) and was a small loop that went about 300 meters out into the lake, 100 meters over, and then 300 meters back to shore. Water was basically 0 underwater visibility (as most lakes are), but wasn't too cold and the weather was pretty great for a swim. They ran the swim with wave starts, and I ended up in the second wave.
Swim went ok for me, with a few hiccups. First, as soon as the gun went off and my wave went, I was kicked in the face. This doesn't really bother me (It's triathlon, getting kicked in the face is gonna happen), but what DID bother me was the fact that water started getting into my goggles (I wear Swedish style goggles). I stopped for a moment and felt a small crack on the top of the goggle. To remedy this, I simply did the first half of the swim or so with my right eye completely closed.
After turning passed the second buoy - and feeling thoroughly like a pirate at the time - I decided I would just be better off swimming the last few hundred meters with my head above the water. This is mainly because I breath solely on my right side (I'm just more comfortable that way), and with my right eye closed - it was next to impossible to properly sight my swim path. I figured that 300 meters of "mega pulling" wouldn't hurt my stock too much - and it didn't. I went from ridiculously slow to ridiculously slow.
Finished the swim in 90th place overall - which is about what I expect these days.
Coming out of the water and to T1 was somewhat daunting. After what was a rough swim, I had a 500 meter hike up a hill to get to the transition area. I made the decision, as soon as I saw the looming hill, that I would casually walk up the hill. The minute or so that I lost wouldn't kill me in my time, and I'd rather get to the bike with somewhat fresh legs than have my quads burning before I even started.
Outside of the hill - T1 went pretty quick and was fairly uneventful.
Hopping on the bike - I felt pretty good and felt I would push my power a bit higher than what my normal 20k time trial power would be. The bike was a two loop, 7 mile per loop course and I figured that - if it was flat - I'd be able to go pretty hard and still retain power to run to my potential.
Well, the course was NOT flat. It had some hills. Not super hilly, but hilly enough that you had to do some climbing and couldn't just power your way through on your 11t. This threw me for a bit of a loop - and I decided I'd ease up on the bike a bit in order to completely save my legs for the run.
I passed nearly everyone in my wave and the wave ahead of me, and was overtaken by only two people that I passed (around the time I decided to ease up). This led to me coming in to T2 with the 10th fastest bike split of the day - and heading out on the run in the 6th position on the race (2 people in my age group ahead of me and 3 from the previous wave ahead of me).
About the bike course - it was well supported. There were two aid stations (I skipped them both times) and that seemed plenty for the course. There were a couple of really rough areas on the road at some of the turns, but complete road closures made it pretty easy to handle. All in all - a well done bike course considering where it was at.
T2 went pretty quick, with the two people from my age group taking off just before me from transition. I wasn't really worried though - as the run is my strongest part of my triathlon and I figured I'd be able to easily catch them.
The transition out of the transition was a bit sketchy. You ended up running down a flight of stairs before taking off on the walking paths through Bonelli Park and around the lake. The run itself was a beautiful course with lots of shade and a great view of the lake in Bonelli Park. It was a 4.5 mile loop that was an out and back with a few aid stations sprinkled in.
|At the top of the stairs on the run.|
As soon as my foot fell once I was off the stairs and away from transition and on the actual running path - I knew this was going to be a good run for me.
I made pretty quick work of the two people in front of me and set my sights on the third guy. I ended up passing him right before the turn around, and kicked it up a notch. I had a pretty good turnover at this point and was hovering around the 5:15 per mile mark for the last 2 miles. I heard the first person cross the finish line (from the previous wave) and saw the second guy as he was barreling down the chute. I kicked it up a notch and came close to catching him - but couldn't. Rather than be "that guy" that tries to blow past someone at the last second, I elected just to pull up and cross right behind him in the finish. Third across the finish line (but ended up finishing 6th overall on the day due to people who had a faster race that went in a later wave). I did have the fastest run split of the day - at 24:58 for 4.5 miles, which is a 5:33 per mile pace - which, ironically, almost mirrored exactly what my Garmin had (24:56 at 4.61 miles). NOTE: I'm actually listed on the results as having the second fastest run split - but the girl who had the fastest run split (who was in the high 200s on her placement) is listed as having run a 2:38 per mile pace - so that's either an error, she didn't run the full course, or she's the fastest living creature in the universe...either of those three options I'm ok with.
I ended up placing 6th overall and first in my age group. Not a bad day at all.
|Bruce and I accepting my award.|
I thought the race was incredibly well run and there isn't a whole lot to complain about. I wasn't thrilled about the transition area being so high up (the hill to walk up to it is a pain in the ass and the stairs coming down for the run is begging someone to fall on them and get hurt) - but it was different and kind of unique to this triathlon. The roads had some very rough areas, but there's only so much a race director can do to control that.
On the flip side of the negatives, the race was incredibly well supported with a bunch of volunteers and a great set up of finish line vendors. The awards ceremony was fun and quaint, and not overly done to the point where it becomes a burden. Not to mention the swag was pretty cool. You get a nice tech T-shirt and a really cool medal along with a bag of goodies.
|The medal is pretty cool for this.|
Things I could have done better? My swim, as always, has a ton of room for improvement. If I can just get that on a level where I'm consistently in the 1:30 to 1:40 per 100 meters range - I would be winning a lot of these triathlons and be competitive in larger events. In addition, I "pulled back" on the bike and I can't help but think that I reeled it in a little too much. When I finished my run, I was hurting - but I wasn't exhausted to the point where I left everything I had on the run course. Now, I'm not saying I could run any faster than I did - I think that's about at the peak of how fast I can run - but I do think I could have pushed it a bit more on the bike and still have maintained the ability to run like I did. It will take some experimentation to figure out where the compromises come into play for that.
So what's next? Not much. I'm shutting things down for a couple of weeks and then going to Palm Springs for the HITS event to support my wife (who is doing the sprint - her first triathlon) and my brother in law (who is doing the olympic). It will be interesting to do a race report as a spectator and not a participant.
My first triathlon for next year will be the ITry Triathlon sprint with my wife in February, and then possibly the Bayshore 70.4 in March. I'll probably do a 10k or two beforehand in December and January.
In the meantime, check out some of the great races put on by Renegade Racing and, if you're interested in any of them, shoot me an email for a discount code.